If you were looking for John Tesar drama on the second episode of Top Chef, which aired on December 8, you went home empty-handed. After a debut that focused on Dallas' favorite chef, the Bravo channel chef competition reality show kept Tesar in the background, instead going to its fallback plot device for this season: rookies versus veterans.
This episode was a place setter, with exposition about the history and culinary traditions of Charleston, South Carolina. You learn that South Carolina played a pivotal role in the Revolution, and that it has seafood. You see a massive seafood boil get poured out onto a table. You watch the contestants nibble on shrimp.
The episode splits the chefs into two groups, veterans versus novices duh, who eat a family-style meal at the home of a prominent local. The chefs must watch, they must observe these cooks in their home settings. They must eat, digest, then return with their chef spin on what they ate.
Some of the novices are still irked about being on the novice team, and this is where the episode sets up the plot. Portland chef B.J. Smith complains that he deserves to be on the veteran team, because he owns his own restaurant — missing the definition of "veteran" here, i.e., you have been on the show before.
B.J. strikes again when the teams go food shopping. The novices are bonkers out of control. Who's buying the butter? Are you buying the butter, or am I? Oops, everyone buys butter. B.J. selfishly buys a pork tenderloin, which eats up $125 of their $500 budget, leaving other chefs with just a few basil leaves and birdseed for their dishes.
But B.J. has to have that pork loin, because he's the meat guy. He's all about meat. Meat is his thing. He's known for his meat. Imagine our surprise when he undercooks the meat. He pulls it out of the oven and it's trichinosis-red. He tries to quickly sauté it but #fail.
The meals are served. For the veteran team, things run as smooth as butter. Every course, better than the last. Winning dish goes to former Dallasite Casey Thompson, for her shredded collards.
The rookies lose. Chef Annie Pettry gets the boot for her unforgivably soggy crust on her tomato tart. Judge Gail Simmons hates that pork loin, but no way are they going to bump B.J. They need his arrogance for another episode.
Top Chef airs Thursdays at 9 pm CST on Bravo.